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Brand voice and tone

McMaster University speaks consistently across all print and digital communications — from websites to e-newsletters and advertising. This voice embodies McMaster’s distinct identity as a place of discovery, collaboration, excellence and inclusiveness, focusing on our impact here and around the world.

Expandable List

Our tone varies depending on the audience. For example, a more conversational tone is used for social media, vivid adjectives and verbs for promotional copy, a direct, straightforward tone for web copy, and a more formal tone for official documents.

  • Optimistic: Use an authentic voice to highlight solutions and subjects.

  • Direct: Avoid unnecessary wordiness, jargon or hyperbole. Concise wording is more powerful.

  • Warm and student-focused: Use first and second-person language (“we,” “you,” “us”) and contractions when appropriate.

  • Impact-focused: Share the impact or potential impact our community contributes to a brighter future.

  • Team-focused: Where possible, put individual accomplishments in the context of a team effort. Avoid a “hero worship” approach and, instead, acknowledge the efforts of the group, community or faculty that helped make the accomplishment possible.

With the above guidelines in mind, you might use expressions like “drive change,” “transform communities” — active, impact-focused, brief.

These keywords are useful to keep in mind when drafting headlines, advertising copy and titles:


  • Community
  • Excellence
  • Ideas
  • Impact
  • Leadership
  • Partnership
  • Solutions


  • Adapt
  • Build
  • Create
  • Collaborate
  • Connect
  • Develop
  • Discover
  • Engage
  • Explore
  • Foster
  • Ignite 
  • Improve
  • Inspire
  • Lead
  • Protect (resources)
  • Reinvent 
  • Shape
  • Strive
  • Transform


  • Collaborative
  • Creative
  • Diverse
  • Engaging
  • Global
  • Inclusive
  • Innovative
  • Insightful 
  • Inspiring